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Older internet users confuse adverts with real search engine results, says watchdog


The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) is launching a campaign to inform older internet users about the dangers of online advertisements. According to the regulator, people over the age of 65 are not well able to recognize advertisements on search engines like Google and therefore run the risk of ending up with unreliable parties.

ACM and senior citizens’ association ANBO jointly conducted a poll in which 38 percent of participating over-65-year-olds said that they found it difficult to tell the difference between an advertisement and a regular search result. A quarter said that they did not pay attention to the distinction at all.

“Especially if you need something quickly, it is important to look carefully, compare and choose with care,” said Edwin van Houten, director of Consumers at the ACM. “This prevents you from ending up with an unreliable party and subsequently receiving an unexpectedly high bill.”

“This campaign is aimed at recognizing advertisements next to the other search results,” said Van Houten said. It is about paying attention to the word “advertisement’ in a search result. 

Senior citizens’ association ANBO is happy with the campaign, which will take the form of videos on social media. “It is important that older people can be online safely. This campaign helps them with that,” said director Anneke Sipkens. 



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